Olekranon – {bilal} Album Review

Sometimes the most unlikely of music can only be described as “centering.” On the surface, Olekranon’s {bilal} is quite blatant and in-your-face. The album has a lot going on in the way of textures; sounds are layered with density, feedback and distortion play major roles, and a fair amount of industrial and experimental elements take center stage. The first track, “adamkan,” notably features drums and constant, distorted guitar — but both seem lower in the mix than one might initially expect, and what is less important than the individual elements is the overall mood. Sonic atmospheric pummeling is certainly present, but so is the solemn, synth-based undercurrent which foots it all.

Listen to “engels”

Track two, “engels,” is a song to shut one’s eyes to, for removing the sense of sight allows one to truly appreciate how its nuanced elements progress and build into a sonic apex. Chugging train-like riffages contrast with stilted mechanistic chiming, and what sound like whale calls slide against programmed drumbeats. The textures are delightful to sift through and break apart, and “engels” is {bilal} at its very best, most enjoyable at its loudest.

For the rest of the album, Olekranon switches back and forth between more traditionally post-rock-influenced jams with slight electronic contributions (“brng yvwh”), minimal electronic compositions that seem to echo from an abysmal world (“deka” / “mouths flame” / “master swine”), and bitchin’, heavy compositions made to wallop your eardrums (“bilal”).

Moments of traditionally catchy or structured songwriting — such as engaging guitar lines or even repetitious sounds that actually induce a trance-like state — are few and far between. Olekranon is simply not simple enough to be that predictable. The intrigue mostly lies in the muted and the understated, the subtleties of unlikely production choices. {bilal} is a tool that leads to focus, and spiritual centering, despite seeming initially like a wall of noise.

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

View all articles
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x